A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

REVIEW: Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome

Beautiful choreography, opulent costumes and decadent sets; there's a reason why Birmingham Royal Ballet have been choosing to bring The Nutcracker to their local stage for 27 years. It never goes out of style.

This particular joyful version of The Nutcracker, which was created by Sir Peter Wright shortly after Birmingham Royal Ballet was founded in 1990, has seen huge success for many years, with sell-out runs and high praise for every single show. This year is proving no different. I headed along to see the show on Sunday (26th November) matinee performance.

Upon arrival, it was incredibly heart-warming to see so many kids dressed up for the show. Although I knew the story of The Nutcracker, I had never had the pleasure of seeing the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform and seeing the kids so excited to see it, reminded me of just what makes the production so popular. It's magical. It's Christmas come to life. It's a feast for the senses, and opens your imagination. If it managed to make me feel these things, just imagine how an eight year old would feel.

Alongside Tchaikovsky's timeless score, performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the story begins on Christmas Eve at the home of the Stahlburn family, who are hosting a huge lavish party. Dr Stahlburn and his wife's 15 year old daughter Clara is training to be a dancer and her friends from the ballet school are invited to perform for the guests.

One of the guests is charismatic magician Drosselmeyer, who gives Clara a Nutcracker doll. Clara becomes fascinated by the Nutcracker doll and believes that it has magical powers. 

Later that night, Clara is unable to sleep, so heads downstairs looking for her Nutcracker doll. However, strange things begin to happen and as the room grows bigger and bigger around her, she is attacked by a hoard of giant rats. Clara's Nutcracker doll springs to life and defends her, before becoming a handsome prince.

The pair then head into a magical world, which has all been conjured up by magician Drosselmeyer. Clara is shown performances from different cultures and is eventually transformed into her dream; the Sugar Plum Fairy. 

To say that the staging of the production was good would be a total understatement. Although it was a very fast paced two hours and ten minutes, the smoothness between scenes was perfect and I was fascinated by the Christmas tree and fireplace transformation, as well as the gorgeous snow scene and Clara's sail across the winter sky on a giant swan, which left the audience in awe. 

The dancers were, of course, wonderful. So much so that it is difficult to pick a stand out performer, as it was obvious that each and every one put their whole self into the production. However, Karla Doorbar, who took on the role of the heroine Clara, was outstanding, as was the Sugar Plum Fairy, performed by Miki Mizutani and the magical Snow Fairy, played by Alys Shee. 

Although an innocent and family friendly show, there is also just the right amount of comedic timing from the dancers and cheekiness from Clara's younger brother Fritz, performed by Archie Mathias. All of this alongside the beautiful uplifting score, makes it a simply wonderful production. 

It's no surprise that the show has become a tradition for local families, and I can only hope that it continues for many years. The Nutcracker is not just the perfect festive show, which will really get you ready for Christmas, it is also charming, colourful and above all, mesmerising. Christmas time is magical for all of us, but The Nutcracker adds that extra sparkle every year. 

The Nutcracker is on stage at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Wednesday, December 13. 

The Nutcracker rating: 10/10

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